Before We Start, what is the Cervix?
The cervix is the name given to the neck of the uterus, where it opens into the vagina. It is cylindrical in shape with an opening called the “os”. It plays an important role in getting pregnant as it is where the sperm is allowed to enter into the uterus and travel up to meet and fertilise the egg.
How Does the Cervix Position Change During the Cycle?
The cervix position changes during the menstrual cycle in response to the different hormones that are being produced.
During your period, the cervix position is low, and can usually be felt relatively easily. As the cycle progresses the cervix becomes higher, and can sometimes be difficult to feel, but with practice this becomes easier. Nearing the time of ovulation, the cervix will be at its highest position, and at this time it may even be too high for you to reach.
How Does the Cervix Texture Change During the Cycle?
At the start of your cycle and during your period, the cervix is hard. The texture is sometimes compared to that of the tip of the nose. The texture becomes softer as you go through your cycle, until just before ovulation when the cervix texture can be compared to that of the lips. Sometimes the cervix becomes so soft, that it is difficult to distinguish it from the softness of the walls of the vagina.
Are There Any Other Cervix Changes During the Cycle?
It is not only the position and the texture of the cervix which changes during the menstrual cycle, but also the cervical “os”, which is the name given to the opening of the cervix.
At the start of your cycle, the cervix is slightly open to allow menstrual blood to pass from the uterus. Once the bleeding has stopped then the cervix closes. This is to prevent any infections passing up into the uterus. As the cycle continues and you are moving towards ovulation, the cervix gradually becomes more open, reaching its peak just before ovulation. This is to allow for sperm to pass through the cervix into the uterus more easily.
The opening of the cervix is only minimal in comparison to the dilation that occurs during labour. When closed it can be felt as a small dimple, and when open it is sufficient to allow the fingertip in. In women who have already been in labour in the past then the cervix usually remains slightly open due to the stretching that has occurred previously. Although it may be slightly harder, with practice you should still be able to detect the changes in the cervical os during your cycle.
Table of Changes in Cervical Position and Texture
|Cycle Stage||Cervix Position||Cervix Texture||Cervix Opening|
|Ovulation||High – maybe too high to feel||Soft||Open|
Cervical Position and Texture as A Sign of Ovulation
Taking into account these changes it is therefore possible to determine when ovulation is due to happen for you. These changes tend to occur a day or so prior to ovulation, so can be used along with other fertility signs, to enable you to time sex accurately during your fertile window.
The most fertile time is when the cervix is Soft, High, Open and Wet. This is sometimes referred to as “SHOW”. To learn how to identify the changes in your cervical mucus, check out the section: How to Check Your Cervical Position for Signs of Ovulation.
Once ovulation has occurred, the cervix will become harder, get lower in the vagina, and the opening will close. This can occur anything from a few hours after ovulation to a few days, and is different from woman to woman. It is therefore a good idea to monitor your cervix over the course of a few cycles to get to know what happens for you.
How Can I Check the Position of My Cervix?
This can be a little tricky the first few times that you try, but believe me it gets much easier if you are happy to persevere. You need to ensure that you have thoroughly washed your hands first – you don’t want to be introducing any infections into your vagina. You can check your cervix at any time, but after a bath or shower is sometimes easier as everything is nice and relaxed. The best position for you to be in depends upon your own personal preference – you can squat or sit on the toilet, lie down, or my preferred position is to stand with one leg up on the edge of the bath. Insert two fingers into your vagina (probably best to keep those nails short for optimal comfort!), and feel up to the top of the vagina. You are feeling for a change in texture from the normal feel of the vagina walls – remember that the cervix moves from feeling hard to soft as you near ovulation, so it’s best to learn where your cervix is and what it feels like before you get to the time of ovulation when it can be much harder to distinguish. Don’t worry if you’re not sure exactly about the texture and the opening to begin with, it takes practice and what you’re feeling for are the changes that occur throughout the cycle.
Can I Check the Position of My Cervix During My Period?
Yes, you can if you wish. However, a lot of women don’t like to do this as it is a bit messy. It is also not really needed as, unless your cycle is very short, you will have plenty of time between your period ending and the run up to ovulation to check your cervix position and texture.
Can I Identify Early Stages of Pregnancy with Cervix Position?
In a normal cycle where pregnancy doesn’t occur, the cervix moves from being high and soft at the time of ovulation, to moving down and becoming hard prior to your period. If you do become pregnant, these changes do still occur. However, instead of remaining low and hard up until your period, the cervix will become soft and move up the vagina again, although often it doesn’t reach as high as it does before ovulation. The cervix will remain tightly shut though to keep the early pregnancy protected within the uterus.
These changes can be really subtle and not at all easy to detect. They also occur at different times – sometimes it can be around 12 days after ovulation, with other women only noticing these changes once their pregnancy is well and truly established and confirmed by pregnancy test. Therefore, don’t rely on these signs to determine if you are pregnant or not – if your period is late, take a test!
I Don’t Like the Idea of Checking My Cervix, Do I Need to Do This?
No, you don’t. This is one of the components of fertility charting, so you can avoid including this, or not do fertility charting at all. As long as you are having sex at least 2-3 times per week, there is likely to be sufficient sperm present at the time of ovulation in order for you to get pregnant.
Some women find fertility charting an important means of becoming more aware of their cycle and allowing them to take back some control whilst trying to conceive, and prevent feeling powerless in the whole process. However, if you do not like the idea of checking your cervix, or find it difficult to do so, that is also absolutely fine and you shouldn’t feel pressured to do so. If fertility charting isn’t for you, but you still want to know when and if you are ovulating, then maybe check out ovulation kits.